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Mental health and life insurance

According to a survey reported in The Daily Telegraph in August 2018 one in three of us will suffer from a mental health problem at some point in our lives. One fear that can arise because of a mental health problem is that no one will give you life insurance. Thankfully in recent years the more open discussion of mental health means that insurance companies take a more realistic approach than you might expect. 

A mental health condition is an illness that affects your psychological wellbeing often through a disorder that can change your mood and behaviour. These can have a wide spectrum of potential impacts on your life from negligible to very severe. When applying for cover a provider will typically ask when you were diagnosed, the severity and regularity of your symptoms, what medication if any you take and how it affects your daily life, such as absences from work. 

Mental health for most insurers will include aspects such as stress, post-natal depression, ADHD, eating disorders, addictions, as well as the more obvious depression and anxiety. It can also include persistent tiredness, ME or chronic fatigue. Some companies may ask a “have you ever had” question for the more serious incidents such as in-patient treatment or suicide attempts, but just ask about the last five years for other mental health issues, meaning if episodes happened before then they may not need to be disclosed at all.

If there is a history of mental illness, such as depression, within the required period and you have been on medication, insurers may increase the premium to cover that risk. Where there is a specific cause for the mental illness, such as bereavement or divorce, this poses a lower risk than if there is no clear explanation for the illness and there may be a lower or no penalty to your premiums. 

Rob Harvey of Drewberry Insurance told The Telegraph. “Mental health problems are medical conditions and should be considered no differently to physical health conditions. However, we find clients are sometimes unwilling to disclose they’ve sought treatment for their mental health in a way they wouldn’t be if they’d had chemotherapy for cancer, for instance.” He went on to point out that advisers are used to dealing with all types of medical conditions, so they are not making personal judgments on the individual, merely assessing the insurance risk. “As with all insurance applications, when you’re applying for life insurance it’s vital you are open and honest. A tiny percentage of life insurance claims are declined each year, but the main reason is due to issues of non-disclosure at application stage”.

As ever I am happy to advise on your personal circumstances in confidence so please get in touch to learn what your insurance options may be. 

Protection plans with no investment link will have no cash in value at any time and will cease at the end of the term. If premiums are not maintained, then cover will lapse

 

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